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True Health Clubs Use RFID to Shape Up Towel Management

The Singapore-based company can better track the towels it loans to patrons, as well as those that are picked up or returned by its laundry service provider.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 23, 2014

Fitness gym True Group, an international health-club company based in Singapore, has begun a five-year rollout of radio frequency identification technology at all of its clubs to manage its towels. The solution, provided by EPC Solutions Taiwan, was taken live in October 2014 at the newest True Yoga facility in Chung-Ho Taiwan, and the company plans to install the technology at its other clubs as well, beginning next month, at a rate of one center going live every three months.

To record the return of towels issued to patrons, RFID antennas encircle the openings to the soiled-linens container.
True Group operates approximately 35 health clubs, primarily under its True Yoga and True Fitness brands, and has a total of 200,000 members in five countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and China. One costly responsibility that the company faces is managing the towels used by those members. Each club loans its towels to members, who are expected to leave the wet towels behind when they leave. At that point, the towels are laundered offsite, and are then returned and made available to other patrons. True Group found that many of its towels were lost, presumably because members were taking them home.

EPC Solutions' L30 UHF laundry tag
The company installed an electronic article surveillance (EAS) system within each of its clubs that sounds an alarm if a member attempts to leave while in possession of a towel belonging to the club. The system worked fine, says T.H. Liu, EPC Solutions' president, though it provided only an alert, and not the ID number of the specific towel being removed, nor the member's identity. Consequently, True Group could not follow up with the individual who took that towel, to remind him or her to return it.

Another challenge the club wanted to overcome was the sheer volume of labor involved in counting towels as they were transported to the laundry vendor, and again once they returned. The company decided that an RFID system could reduce labor costs, as well as identify towels being removed from each club, and thereby enable personnel to contact the individuals who removed those towels.

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